Stefan Melnik's instruments

June 7, 2007 at 04:52 AM · Has anybody heard about a maker named Stefan Melnik from Ukraine? I had the opportunity to hear and play two violins by him this weekend. One was 15 years old and had been played intensively by a top soloist. A student of his (14 years old) just won 2nd price (1st not assigned) in the Oistrakh competition playing that violin. She was asked by many in the audience, which Strad she was playing. It was a top soloist violin.

The other one was brand new. It had no rawness to the sound and was gorgeous in the hall. Fully comparable to a pedegree Italian violin and possibly even better than the other one.

Apparently Melnik in the soviet area was involved in a science project doing research on the vast Soviet collection of Strads and Guarneris. It obviously paid off in this case.

I have played many modern instruments over the last couple of years. This maker is one of the very best I have come across.

Apparently the principal viola of Royal Opera House plays his viola as well. Does any member of this forum play on his instruments?

Replies (2)

June 11, 2007 at 06:37 PM · Dear Kristian,

I’ve casually found out this site… and your message about Melnik’s (by the way the spelling Melnyk is more correct) violins! Reading about myself was very nice… :)

I’ve played the older violin (dated by 1991) for already five months, and it sounds really great – projected far, deep, powerful, especially on the G-string, on which you can rise in the high position without any fears of “ugly sound” or “wolves”… About the “profondité”, I’ve also heard someone telling that it sounds more like a viola than a violin. Playing it is a true pleasure, I’d already heard this instrument in concerts many times before, but the Oistrakh competition was the first opportunity to play it myself in a big hall… and the result even “shocked” me, especially when the president of the jury refused to believe that it was not an Italian instrument ! I believe you can find easily some comments on the very instrument on sites after Oistrakh competition.

But you know, the weather can slightly change the sound: by really hot days it seems suddenly to “dry up” and “gasp”, playing it becomes a bit difficult. And viceversa, when the weather is getting better, you feel at once.

Actually, I’ve started playing it because of pain in my hand (which, as you could have seen, are not enormous…) : the size of Melnyk’s violin’s necks are a bit more narrow than standard, and it resolved all my problems. I’ve heard a violin-maker of Cremona saying that this violin was a kind of “hybrid” between a Guarneri and “something else” he couldn’t identify.

Un caro saluto :)

June 12, 2007 at 11:44 AM · Hi Kristian,

Yes, I have heard, unfortunately don't own, but had pleasure to try out S.Melnyk's instruments on the number of occasions, last time just in February 2007. I have memories of his instruments dating back to the late 80's...

Two of my old school friends of that time are still using those violins and are not showing any intensions to exchange their beloved ukrainian-made 'soulmates' for any fancy, well-promoted, often shamelessly overrated and overpriced foreign companions...

To summarise the best features I have to start from the remarkable sensitivity of Melnyk's violins particularly in Pianissimo which allows you to significantly broaden the spectrum of dynamics. They are also surprisingly powerful creations, and you shouldn't be afraid to muffle their voice with the haviest bow you can get - Melnyk's violin can handle as much of weight and force as a good Stainway Concert Grand (piano).

Yes, there are constant sound comparisons with Stradivarius and other antique Italians, but physical contact with Melnyk's violin this year reminded me of a similar sensation I have had while trying an early 19th century French instrument valued last year in Sydney in excess of $80000AUS.

In my opinion, Melnyk produces the best violins you can wish for to use in contemporary recording studio as well as in a large concert hall!

...I just remembered the discussion about one of Melnyk's violins with the retired now recording ingeneer of the National Radio Studios of Ukraine: he was prising them both - the performer, but especially the Violin (made by S.Melnyk) for translucent clarity in even the most complicated places where they (sound engineers) usually would have to sit and do their usual clean-up for hours, "...but not at this occasion..."

I was always wondering how would one of Melnyk's instruments sound with Pirastro Olive strings on, versus something like Pirazzi - to have the same violinist, violin and the piece recorded in the same acoustics... some Bach or solo Hindemith would be nice, don't you think?

Cheers, Olena.

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